I hear lots of different responses to the question “Why do you like Pediatric Endocrinology?” Maybe the most common is that the logic of the pathways involved in endocrine problems appeals to those entering the field. Other (equally valid) explanations include the ability to work with children and their families over years of time, allowing us to really get to know our patients. Or that endocrinology is an area that deals with the whole body, not just one organ system.
Although I agree with all of these, it took me over 20 years of practicing to figure out the major reason why I find it so rewarding. In Pediatric Endocrinology, we have the chance to shape the physical development of a child so that it follows the right pattern. An easy example is a patient with growth hormone deficiency, who without treatment would be abnormally small. Treating that child with growth hormone permits him or her to grow to their full potential. Or take the example of a teenager with hypogonadism. Giving sex steroids induces pubertal changes so that their body develops along normal male or female lines. Treating the transgender patient with pubertal blockade and hormones allows them to live more comfortably in their affirmed gender.
It takes years of treatment and lots of patience, but using endocrine treatments to guide these patients to a healthy future is truly gratifying and makes Pediatric Endocrinology a fantastic area.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Ashley Dummer is a Communications Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics. She has worked in Pediatrics since graduating with her degree from Indiana University.